Morning Fog

Full of pie

I am not a Black Friday shopper, at least in the way Black Friday Shopping has come to be known. I went to the grocery store this morning – that’s shopping. I went to BedBathandBeyond, almost next door to the grocery store, and quickly grabbed a new Christmas Tablecloth and napkins, and a picture frame. That was shopping too. Oh, and we went to the hardware store for a couple of things. Shopping, shopping, shopping.
Then, my youngest son Squirt said to me, “Mom, how come you don’t go shopping on Black Friday.” I just stared at him, debating whether or not to engage him by pointing out that I had indeed gone shopping, while realizing that he was using the same tone that he used when he asked, “Mom, how come you don’t go watch chick flicks and drink wine with your girlfriends?”
Life must be hard when you are 13, and harder still when your easy-to-categorize mom doesn’t live up to all the cliches. So I just said a few bubble-bursting things about Black Friday shopping to Mr. Gullible and Impressionable, and he walked away deep in thought.

Since I guess this is going to be about him and the funny things he says, last night, after his older brother Jolt had left with the girlfriend, Surfergirl, Squirt told me that he doesn’t like Surfergirl as much as he used to…I was shocked, since he loves her like a sister and he has known her more than half his life now. I thought maybe she had beaten him playing BlackOps, but no. He said, quite thoughtfully, that it was as if she was taking his sister Sprite’s place in the family. I thought that was a very sweet and loyal thought on his part. Because in many ways, with Sprite way up in Montana for 2 1/2 years now, and with Surfergirl playing the part of the female sibling and 5th family member for all that time (and basically being a part of our family for 7 years now) it feels sometimes as if she has taken her place, in a very superficial way. So I had to explain to him how she isn’t taking Sprite’s place, she has made her own place in our family. And if they get married, that will be her place forever. And besides, we might all live in the same city again one day, or Jolt and Surfergirl could be living somewhere else, and Sprite and her CowboyMarine husband could be the family members who are around for everything. Nobody is taking anybody’s place.
That seems so obvious to me, but apparently not to everyone…sometimes I forget, now that he is a smart-mouthed teenager, that my Squirt is the one with the uncanny ability to voice feelings and thoughts that others wouldn’t, or couldn’t. It was startling sometimes when he was a wee one, but he is still the same kid, albeit in a different body. He is now officially taller than me and his sister, and he has the biggest feet in the family. I think, after growing two boy-children, that the way they can just shoot up and become So Big is the most ironic thing life has to offer. Because they are still just little boys, with an attitude, on the inside. Amazing that girls are ever attracted to them, really. Silly girls.

Oh, and I baked two pumpkin pies this year. Two more than ever before:)

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Thanks!

It occurred to me at 6:30 this morning as I was re-organizing my kitchen cupboards, because I clearly have nothing more pressing to do (that was a lie, BTW), that we really live in a remarkable place.

Imagine a country with a major National Holiday dedicated to the sole purpose of getting together with loved ones, feeling grateful, and Giving Thanks for our many blessings. No matter how exactly you do that, or what combination of the above resonates most with you, a person would have to be some sort of Scrooge not to feel warm and fuzzy about that.

I was going to write about all of the things I am thankful for, but due to the slovenly way I have treated my blog(s) lately, last year’s is there, right there, if you scroll down a a bit further. Or I could link to it, because NOT THAT MUCH has changed, when you get down to it. Thank God for that.

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Knock, Knock

From time to time I wander by here. I play with my widgets or my header. Sometimes I try on a new theme. But now, at this moment, I am perfectly happy with all of that, and I couldn’t think of a single good reason not to write something. Anything. For a change, nobody is glancing over my shoulder or asking for something. With a few days off from school, there are no pressing school duties that must be done NOW. It’s like the good old days B. T. Before teaching. Ahhhh.

FYI: just for the record, I do not dislike teaching. I actually kind of like it even if it is a lot of work.
The problem is that it takes me away from my life. I suppose there are people who define their lives in terms of their job and what they do for a living, but after being a stay-at-home mom for a couple of decades and knowing what a full (and fun! and fulfilling!) life that was, I can’t help but feel that this job has me stuffing most of my life into the crowded hall closet of TIME.

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More than the stone rolled away

It was supposed to be a cool, chilly day, unlike most Easters past. But there we were, standing outside after going to Mass and having brunch, playing croquet on the lawn, enjoying what turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.

I think I was getting ready to swing my mallet when SurferGirl froze and said, very calmly and almost inaudibly, “there’s an earthquake.” I looked over at her, standing very still, and thought to myself that if I stand very still, maybe I would feel it too before I missed it. Because, of course, you just don’t feel most of them, and it is kind of fun when you do. Even the ones you DO feel, leave you wondering, was that an earthquake? The stronger ones are a little bit like you drank some wine and then bumped into the sofa – a little disorienting for a second, but nothing in the long run. (They are almost never like the one that hit when I was 10, and I woke up to the sound of everything in the house crashing and banging, and I realized that I was hanging on to the windowsill above me as my bed was skittering across the floor.) So I froze also, and smiled when I realized that Yes! I did feel something! And then it got stronger. And a little stronger. It felt a little bit like standing on a boat…solid underneath but slightly undulating. My husband joked about seeing how well built the new house was. I joked about how we couldn’t have picked a better place to ride out a quake…outside on the lawn, not close to anything that could fall. And still it rolled on. And I kept looking at the house, half expecting to see a wall fall, a crack to open up, a tile to fly off the roof, something. And I was just struck by how quiet it all was. Silent. We were all silent, listening and sensing and absorbing the stillness. And still it rolled on. Neighbors started to make noise, garage doors opened, people appeared in their yards. And then it was over.

I scampered into the house, concerned about the dog and the china cabinet, and not really in that order. The dog was fine and so was everything else, so we went on with our game after a too-long chat with a neighbor. And then we played another. I commented to SurferGirl at one point that I should go inside and check online…I said it had to be a big one because we aren’t by a fault here. When we feel them they are out in the ocean or in Mexico or out in the desert. Or in Los Angeles. I was praying it wasn’t in Los Angeles, and I was thinking about my family there, gathered for Easter. For us to feel it that strongly and for that long…well it just had to be formidable and I didn’t want anyone hurt, and (selfishly) I didn’t want to have to drive up there that day.

So when Oldest and SurferGirl were ready to leave, I ran in to check and wow! sure enough! quite a big earthquake indeed! Lucky thing it was where it was since it isn’t too populated out there where the epicenter was. I do know a couple of people who grew up in Calexico though, so I hope their families came through unscathed.

But as for us, it was pretty much a non-event and I am sorry to report that I haven’t felt even one of the hundreds of aftershocks. The little girl in me is a bit bummed, but the homeowner in me says it’s cool. I don’t really need to feel any more earthquakes in my life.

In another surprising, earth-moving turn-of-events, I actually picked the winner of the NCAA basketball championship when I filled out one of those bracket things a month ago or so at school. It was just for fun, but Huh. Go figure. Go DUKE! I hope I win something because pure, raw, unadulterated blind luck like that cannot go unrewarded!

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Super Bowls, and Plates

Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone, much like the entire month of January. Where did THAT go? I really couldn’t care less about the Super Bowl, unless I’m in the stands. That’s pretty fun – I’ve gotten to do that a few times. But on TV, I’m really much more interested in the commercials. But I missed a lot of those this year too. Oh well. I did catch The Who halftime show. I have always been a big fan of The Who, but it occurred to me that sometimes just hanging in there the longest has its own rewards. I mean, of all the bands who were around in the ’60s and ’70s, how many could do what they did? Old guys. Doing great on the field during halftime with lights, lasers and fireworks and bringing down the house with songs that are what…40 years old? And my husband sat and watched them too. He who never cared for their music back in the day. He who passed when I took our oldest to see them almost 10 years ago when they had a reunion concert tour and I thought it was “the last chance” to get to see them. And he passed again when I took youngest son to see them 3 years ago, when it seemed certain that it was probably the last chance to get to see them…my point is that hubby wasn’t watching them because he loves them. He was watching them because, well, they are still around. You can’t not watch. And even if he doesn’t love them, at least their songs are familiar, unlike the music of more recent bands. So, basically, The Who have won my husband over just by sheer staying power. I guess you should never say, “I wouldn’t listen to them if they were the last band on earth,” because you probably would.

Anyway, back to the Super Bowl. What I do like about the Super Bowl is that it is an important day for the aforementioned husband. He loves the NFL and follows it like our golden retriever follows me around the kitchen. Super Bowl Sunday is the culmination of months of sitting on the sofa and screaming at the TV while exchanging text messages with his nephew. So I happily celebrate the day with him and make it special. After all, I get a few months off now. No more background crowd noise and banal chit chat during half time.

I also like Super Bowl Sunday because oldest child comes to watch the game with us, and brings Surfer Girl along with him. We cook, we eat, we talk and joke and have fun. I almost forget there is a game on.

Today we had a decidedly unsportsmanlike array of foodstuffs. But it was all delicious. Don’t know what possessed us to choose what we did, but this is what we had…

1. Baked brie. A big one. With a sauce I make by cooking together fig jam and balsamic vinegar. With water crackers.
2. An assortment of anitpasti that took me all morning to prepare…from scratch. First there was a caponata. Hours and hours of work went into that, but it was the best caponata I have ever had. I also made sweet onion slices broiled with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese, roasted red peppers with basil and garlic, and zucchini broiled with lemon juice and red pepper flakes.
3. In a command performance (in honor of his wonderful showing on Christmas Eve) oldest son brought fresh mussles and steamed them in white wine, butter, garlic, parsley…you get the idea. I don’t partake, but it got rave reviews once again. This time he left the octopus behind.
4. A bit later I made chicken pita sandwiches…grilled the chicken with lemon, butter and dill sauce. Made a greek yogurt sauce, and put them in pita with onion, tomatoes, feta, sauce, etc.
5. For dessert, Surfer Girl made a lemon pie. It was lemony and custardy, more like the way you would expect a key lime pie to be, it wasn’t like a lemon meringue pie. She used the fresh lemons off our trees, which are To Die For.
6. There were lots of extra unused egg whites, so we made meringues. Not on top of the pie obv. Beside them. Sprinkled with red sugar for, you know, Valentine’s Day. Oops, what football?
7. I also threw some chocolate chip dough in the oven and spoiled little guy’s fun. Had to turn that dough into cookies. Not nearly as good, but what the heck.
8. Lots of good red wine. French. Yum. I read where Pinot Noir has more antioxidants than other wines, so, you know…the more the better.

There were two downers though. First of all, littlest guy is sick. He has been running a fever since Friday. A high fever and he is fluish. I hate it when my kids get sick. Not that anyone likes it, but still…I made the mistake the other day of telling someone how blessed I am that I have had three kids who are rarely sick. This child hasn’t had a school sick day in two years. And from Kindergarten to 7th grade? I’d have to check, but wow. He probably hasn’t missed more than 5 days of school total. I know he had perfect attendance last year. Possibly other years as well. I don’t think he has ever been out of school more than one day the other years. Anyway, I made the mistake of making that comment and totally jinxed him. Now he is possibly the sickest I have seen him in a very long time.

The other downer doesn’t affect my family personally, but my good friend’s sister died this morning. Not only is she my good friend, but her son is my little guy’s best friend, and she is also my classroom aide. I definitely feel her pain. Her sister was mentally, and possibly physically too, handicapped. She was in her mid-40’s and lived in a home of some sort. She suffered a stroke several months ago, and has been miserable, in pain, having seizures, and basically slipping away ever since. She is finally at peace, and I think there is certainly relief now because of that, but she was beloved and I know she will be missed.

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Not such a great start

The new year has not started out as well as I had hoped. I started back to work/school on Monday. I felt good, I looked refreshed. I thought I had a handle on how to better balance work and home and not get sick again.
Tuesday wasn’t bad but I was tired already. Monday had also included a faculty meeting after school. Then there was another meeting after school Wednesday. By Thursday I was sneezing and feeling like I was getting sick. By Friday I was getting feverish and headachy and congested.
I pretty well spend all of Saturday in bed.

Phooey.

Needless to say, nowhere in there was a trip to the gym I just joined. I planned to AT LEAST go Saturday and Sunday for countless hours, but, as mentioned above, that didn’t go as planned either.

Back on the horse, I suppose. I’m not giving up on reworking my life, but this whole getting a cold thing is really throwing a wrench in the works. I think I need to start wearing a surgical mask, latex gloves and scrubs in the classroom. Before leaving the building, I should have a decontamination shower. MAYBE then I won’t get sick as much.

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There are no coincidences

Second post…I’m catching up….

So has this ever happened to you?
I have been around a long time, granted, and I have a pretty decent vocabulary. Decent to the point that when I hear or read an unfamiliar word, it makes an impression because, frankly, it just doesn’t happen that often. At least not in my usual day-to-day life of teaching first grade and mothering a 12 year old. If I were reading law reviews or taking medical school classes or something, I am POSITIVE I would encounter whole unfamiliar paragraphs, so I am not really bragging or anything here.

So anyway, every now and then I hear or read that random unfamiliar word. Usually infer some meaning from the context and move on. Sometimes I go look it up, especially if it is important for some reason. But occasionally I will have twilight zone-ish back-to-back experiences with the same exact word that has somehow escaped my notice for 50 years.

That just happened to me. This time the word is Formic Acid. Not an everyday word in my usual comings and goings, but after school today, a fellow teacher tossed it out into casual conversation. And just now, perusing a blog I had lost track of (someone I used to read all the time) it was tossed into casual conversation again her storytelling!
It isn’t everyday, in my circle of friends, that TWO people toss “formic acid” to the conversation.

Both conversations had strange and bizarre references to ants, which makes sense since formic acid seems to have something to do with ants. Dead ants, specifically. But still. Raise your hand if you have had a conversation with someone in which ants and formic acid were tossed around like you were discussing the weather…go on. Now raise your hand if that has happened to you TWICE in the same day…you see.
Coincidence? I think not. Especially since neither my conversation with the teacher, nor the blog post I was reading were ABOUT ANTS. The whole ant/formic acid thing was just one of those fly-by references. Am I the only person in the world who didn’t know what formic acid was?

Anyway, all is not lost because I now know what Formic Acid is. /eyeroll
Obviously the universe wanted me to have this piece of information.

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Ginger

It’s been too long since I posted a doggy baby picture. This one taken by youngest son.

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Unoffcially back in 7th grade. At least I feel that way sometimes.

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Belated Thanks

I am thankful for so many things this year. Top of the list: I feel good right now. For the past six weeks, give or take, I have had multiple things go wrong with me. Not major things, I just kept catching various illnesses courtesy of the little germ spreaders in my classroom. But three different antibiotics later, I feel whole. I can actually breathe in and feel air swirling around in clear sinus cavities – a feeling not to be taken for granted. And I can breathe deeply without hearing crackling in my lungs that sounds like someone in crunching up aluminum foil. Yes, for all this I am deeply thankful.

And I am thankful for my family. My immediate family especially: my littlest one, now 12, who is less and less a Mamma’s boy, but still my friend when he isn’t trying on his macho persona. My beautiful daughter and her husband, even though they are far from home, they are happy together (I can’t believe that they have been married over 2 years already!) and that is all I want for them. Actually I lie…I want more than that for them, but that is the thing that counts most. I’m thankful that my daughter is back in school in her new state. A year off had us panicking that she would never finish college, but hopefully she will stick with it despite the demands of being a wife and working. And I can’t forget my oldest…the one who holds a special place in my heart because he is my first. I don’t love him more than the others, and there were times that he drove me crazy (much of his early life) but he is just so darn special because everything was new when I went through it with him. And he is so gifted in so many ways that just knowing him makes him special. And he is close enough that we get to share in his life. And he has chosen the most amazing girl, and they have been together 6 years now and she is like another daughter to me now. In fact, I am so thankful for her because my home life is so testosterone-filled with my daughter out of state, that I can’t stand it sometimes. I could live in a puffy pink palace, but my husband and sons are such manly-men that I feel like a stranger in a strange land at times. So hurray for Surfer Girl. Tomboy that she is, at least she’s a girl! She cooks, she bakes, she helps me do dishes! She wears dresses sometimes! And skirts! She can discuss shopping! Yay!

And I’m thankful that my parents are still around even if their health isn’t so good. My mom seems to have beaten cancer, but her memory is shot. But she still remembers me, so I’m thankful for that. My dad will probably need bypass surgery soon, and there is the whole dilemma of their care in the future…but at least I haven’t had to experience the pain of losing them. I know it’s coming, but thankfully I haven’t had to deal with that yet.

And I have an interesting job. I love the little ones even if they are killing me, one virus or bacteria at a time. I lost two of them over this break – going to a different school for different reasons. And I’m (sorta) glad one is going. Nothing personal, but he was falling farther and farther behind the class and taking up more and more time from the others. His leaving will be a positive thing for the rest of the class, even though we will miss him. The other one we will just miss. sniff. Cute little boys, both of them.
So yeah, I’m thankful for my job…for a pittance of money, for health benefits that I can provide my family, for being a part of the staff at my son’s school and being able to share in his days. For mental stimulation and built-in friends. Mostly girls. Eh. I would probably prefer to just be home again, all things being equal. But I like teaching and I’m lucky that I don’t actually need to support myself or I could never afford to teach. That’s sad, isn’t it? All my education and training and experience, and the fact that I probably put in 70 hours a week to get it all done, and I barely earn a living wage. I couldn’t live the way I do or support a family on what I make. So lots of thanks all around on that front. I think.

What else? Oh yeah. We finally sold our beach condo last summer and were finally able to buy a house down here…4 years after we moved down from Northern California. And thanks to the state of the economy and the impact on housing prices, our condo more or less held its own since it was at the beach, but we were able to afford a much nicer house inland that we could have a few years ago, so in a weird way I am thankful that the real estate market was so bizarre and so uncooperative for so long. We plan to be in this house for a long time, God willing, and so maybe it was worth the wait.

There are lots of things I am not so thankful for, but my life is good. I have all that I need and more, and this is a glass-half-full time of year, so I won’t dwell on what could be better or people I would like to eject or delete from my life. (Trust me, when you are a teacher, there are people that you would like to eject or delete on any given day, and usually their names are spelled p-a-r-e-n-t-s.)

I almost forgot the dog. Ginger gives us such unconditional love everyday, and even though I am forever cleaning up golden fur, we wouldn’t trade her away for anything. And I think I’ll end there before I start mentioning random things like vacuum cleaners, chocolate or self-tanners.

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